Don’t Fall For The Acai Berry Rebill Scam
Scams come and go in the supplement industry, and while apparently this one has been going on a while, it’s a big one. Acai Berry a berry from South America, which like all “miracle foods” before it, promises to cure pretty much everything, is right at the heart of a scam which has cost the US public millions of dollars and a lot of frustration.
Acai is sold for everything from weight loss, muscle building, and anti aging, to a cure for cancer.
Minus of course a drop of real science to support the claims and marketed as “the world’s No. 1 super-food” and other BS … Interestingly, this scam has two faces, one the product itself, the other, the real biggie, the way it’s billed. Par for the course with such products, the marketing hype far surpasses the science.
Let’s talk about the billing scam first.
Although not only associated with Acai products, this scam seems to have gone hand in hand with Acai products presumably because people are so desperate to lose weight they will buy into anything that looks like it’s got the edge.
The scam often goes like this:
You click on some tantalizing advert somewhere and find a web site offering a free bottle of product or a website showing you where you can get a free bottle of the supplements.
Generally speaking you initially end up on a fake blog, you can spot them a mile away , they tend to be called something like “Janets-weightlossblog.com” ( I made that up , no idea if it exists) .
The blog / website shows faked testimonials, and before and after photos of “Janet” which have clearly been edited with software like Adobe Photo Shop, Janet , by the way , doesn’t exist, never did, Janet is typically just a stock photo grabbed from the internet, the name a figment of the scammers imagination.
“Janet” then goes on to explain how she tried everything, blah blah, and how she set up the website just to “help” people out like her, she then goes on to explain how she used this amazing product and how you can get a bottle for free and also lose 30lbs in 30 days.
The websites often show Youtube videos of Oprah or a major news outlet, supposedly correlating the ridiculous claims about the product. Fortunately for the scammers I guess nobody actually clicks and plays the videos because they tend to have absolutely nothing to do with the claims being made by the website promoting the product.
In fact it would seem Oprah and other celebrities are trying to sue the firms promoting Acai using their images or suggesting they support their ludicrous claims.
Back to the fake blogs.
The person who set this fake blog/website up then gets paid by the advertiser everytime somebody takes out the free trial. (Note, I’ve also actually seen them setup fake newspaper websites as well as blogs, these guys are pretty tricky).
You’re probably thinking , how can they get paid if the product’s being given away for free, read on my friends….
It’s only “FREE” on the surface, it’s actually anything but FREE.
Here’s the nasty part of the Acai Berry rebill scam.
They charge a “nominal fee for shipping and handling”, like $5, this has little to do with the handling and everything to do with getting your credit card details.
What follows then are unauthorized credit card charges – some up to $80 per month – that can’t be stopped.
This has happened all over the ‘net, and people have had to cancel their credit cards to get it to stop. Sure, some companies have gotten nailed for this, but many still get away with it. For example, according to an ABC News Report:
“FWM Labs, based in Hollywood, Fla., maintained a Web site promoting acai capsules. The site offered a “free” sample for a nominal fee for shipping and handling.
What followed, authorities say, were unauthorized $80 monthly credit card charges that couldn’t be stopped.
WPLG, ABC’s Miami affiliate, tried to talk with the company in person — and was referred to the company’s attorneys.
Alleged victims said they had to cancel their credit cards to get charges to stop. FWM finally agreed to pay $200,000 in penalties, refund millions to customers and stop its allegedly misleading marketing.”
The Take Home Lesson on the Rebill Saga..
Lesson here folks, nothing of this nature is truly free, so if you see one of these fake blogs or fake newspaper sites offering free product that you just have to give your credit card info to cover shipping and handling fees – be it an acai product or other – be wary.
There’s nothing wrong with paying monthly for legit supplements, or a wine club or indeed a myriad of other things but if you end up at one of these fake blogs then run a mile, “Janet” never existed, your card will be rebilled for huge amounts each month, you won’t be able to contact the company , they won’t take your calls, the only option will be to cancel your card.
I should note that these guys running the Acai Berry rebill scam also rebadge Acai Berry for numerous uses, weight loss, colon cleanse, muscle building, there’s even some running for penis enlargement and confidence boosters. Beware , these guys come in many forms, but the websites are pretty easy to suss out.
So what of acai itself? Yes, it’s a berry – like many others – loaded with anti oxidants, and like many such fruits, may have some potential health benefits. It has no real weight loss effects, will not cure cancer, will not improve your libido, etc.
Food scientist in the U.S., at Texas A&M University, Dr. Steve Talcott sums it up well in the ABC News report
“It’s not a miracle berry, unfortunately. It is superior in antioxidants; it does have a very high antioxidant capacity. There is some really unique chemistry to the fruit. But it’s not a drug. It’s not a miracle, cure-all fruit. I mean this is a dietary component. The recommendation is to incorporate these fruits into our diet, but don’t use them as drugs.”
Brink Bottom Line: Acai – like most “super foods” that make ridiculous promises not supported by the science, are usually sold via multi level marketing companies (MLM) and or fly by night ‘net based companies, and my faith in both is non existent. Acai, like most dark fruits, berries, etc is high in anti oxidants, and perfectly healthy as part of an overall nutrition and exercise plan, but don’t get swept up in the marketing hype, and what ever you do, don’t fall for the re bill scam by giving out your credit card info for a “free” bottle of product.
If somebody you trust doesn’t recommend it and it’s asking for your card details and you found it from some scammy looking blog, then my advice – run a mile in the opposite direction.
If you find any links to these fake blogs then let me know, we will out them.
Will Brink is the owner of the Brinkzone Blog. Will has over 30 years experience as a respected author, columnist and consultant, to the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weight loss industry and has been extensively published. Will graduated from Harvard University with a concentration in the natural sciences, and is a consultant to major supplement, dairy, and pharmaceutical companies.
His often ground breaking articles can be found in publications such as Lets Live, Muscle Media 2000, MuscleMag International, The Life Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Inside Karate, Exercise For Men Only, Body International, Power, Oxygen, Penthouse, Women’s World and The Townsend Letter For Doctors.
He’s also been published in peer reviewed journals.
You can also buy Will’s other books on Amazon, Apple iBook, and Barnes and Noble.